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tv   [untitled]    April 8, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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thought only two men could have done such a thing. one of them, joseph holt, judge advocate general who had been responsible for the trial, but the other was his superior edwin stanton. so perhaps i will leave it this way. the next day after i saw those documents from the war department, i sent a short note to secretary stanton which read, dear sir. public consideration of high character constrain me to inform me that your resignation as secretary of war will be accepted. may i tell you what he said in response? dear sir, public considerations of a high character constrain me to inform you that i will not resign the office until congress comes back into session. knowing at the time he believed that he was already protected by the tenure of office law.
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>> thank you. >> you're welcome. you're welcome. >> thank you. >> indeed. >> all right. >> for more information about the andrew johnson national historic site, visit their website at, and to learn more about tours with historian and author richard norton smith, go to president's & you're watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span 3. between 1861 and 1868, clara barton, known as the angel of the battlefield and founder of the american red cross, lived in this washington, d.c. building. she employed 12 clerks on the third floor in her missing soldier's office where they received over 60,000 letters from families searching for lost sons and husbands. in 1996, richard lyons, a carpenter for the generaler is
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verses administration, was helping to prepare the building for demolition when he discovered this office sign in the attic. american history tv visited the building on seventh street. to learn about the missing soldiers office and to hear the story of richard lehr yons who worked alone for months to save the building from demolition. >> hi. i'm susan rosenvold and i work for the national museum of civil war medicine in frederick, maryland and have a great project i'm working on i'd like to give you a little tour of. it's going to be clara barton's missing soldier office. she lived here during the civil war, and this is where she got her start in humanitarian relief. here we are inside the space where clara lived in the civil war. this part last year was renovated from 1810. as we go up the original staircase starting from the second floor landing, it's all original.
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the actual wood steps and bannister that clara used every day when she came to and from her boarding house room. the first floor of the building was always a store until 1993. there was a shoe store in there, and then the second floor was either professional space, offices or places for the people who on the first floor would live that own the stores, so after a while they never used the third floor, and so they actually blocked off the whole floor so no one could even get up there. so it's pretty much the way it was when general services administration discovered what this building was when they were getting ready to demolish the building. general services administration wanted to sell many of the buildings on this block that they owned, and so they -- because this was old and
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delapida delapidated, they decided they wanted to demolish it so a developer could come in and build something new, but once they discovered the things in the attic on the third floor, they decided that the space was so historically important that they wanted to save the space instead of destroy it and build something new. this is the original staircase that clara used that has never been renovated or changed at all. just a few repairs done to it, so when you walk up the staircase and put your hand on the bannister, you're walking in clara barton's footsteps. she did this for about eight years during the civil war era and just after when she operated a missing soldiers office in the space, and eventually she ended up leaving because her health became so poor and she was so exhausted from the work she had done during the war that she couldn't ficlimb these three se
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of stairs anymore. she ended up moving out late in december of 1868. that's pretty much when she closed down her operations here in washington. so, we're going to go down the hallway. this is the original stairwell, and she would have walked this every day to get to and from her boarding house room. one of the really cool things that we found in here is this blue wallpaper down here at the bottom. it was covered up by floor board. we believe that's the original wallpaper, and in the restoration project we're hoping to replace all. damaged paper or lack of paper in this room with that pattern wallpaper that we expect to have replicated with the same techniques that it would have been made with in the 1850s. and another really interesting thing is one of my favorites is this holder back here.
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this is, if you take this away. the shelf has two holes in it, and it's the earliest form of a fire extinguisher for boarding houses. what they did is have these two holes in a shelf, and they would have leather buckets that sat down in here that would were full of sand because every room had some kind of fire-driven stove, whether it was coal or wood, and then they would need this in case the place caught on fire. any of the occupants could run out to the hallway, grab the bucket and run in and throw it on the fire. so after that, of course, we eventually get to a modern fire extinguisher that is a spray, and it didn't really take them too long to get there, but these are very difficult to find. so now we're in the hallway. one of the neat things that we have that we had replicated is the roll of the missing men.
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clara had five of these produced during the war and sent out almost 100,000 copies, and we only know of of handful in existence today so one of the goals in my museum is to find copies of each roll, 1 through five, so that we can show people exactly all the names and exactly what kind of work she was doing during that period of time. this roll was sent out to newspapers all over the united states and placed in the newspapers along with this little note right up here, and the note just explains to the readers that what they need to do is if they have any information about any of the men on this list, they should send the information to clara barton. this is the space that she would have lived in. one. nice things about this boarding house is that it had installed the gas lighting in the hallways above the doors, and in each of the boarding rooms, so you can
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see when we go into the next room, the gas pipes are still hanging down, that -- that held the original gas lights, and we have some fragments of some of those gas lights that we're going to try to replicate those as the museum moves forward and the restoration work takes place. so we're walking right now into the space that was originally -- well, eventually clara's missing soldiers office. she started out in just one room, and i have read an account from one of her family members who visited her here who said that she had one room. she divided that room in half because she started to collect supplies for soldiers and she needed so much space that she put this wall up that you see in the background, and that was her boarding room. half of it was used to store supplies. the other half was her living space which was really quite small for the time. the last time we know anyone
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inhabited this space on the third floor was -- was in 1911. that's when the original leasee edward shaw moved out of the building. he had gotten to be rather elderly, and he went -- left this building and moved in some smaller space. i'm not sure where yet. he's one of the very intriguing personalities that we're researching right now to find out exactly what his role was. his relationship with clara barton. so he did move out in 1911. as far as we know, no one ever occupied the space after that. >> my named is richard lyons, i work for the general service administration as a carpenter, and in 1996 they sent us out to the buildings that we acquired from the pennsylvania avenue development corporation to clean
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them up, make sure nobody was living in them. it was the day before thanksgiving in '96. me and a co-worker came here. we started in the basement. first floor, and then the second floor, by that time he wanted to go back to the shop. it was about 10:30. he went back to the shop, and i was going to stay because i didn't want to come back here on a monday, so -- so strangely as it happened i made my way up the steps, and i got up here, you know, just nothing in here. no lights no, nothing. only a little bit of light coming through the windows, and -- and i walked in here and i heard some noise in the back. so i said uh-oh, somebody is back there. so i go back there. shine my flashlight around. nothing there, so i'm walking around in each room, and i hear
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the noise over here again. there's nothing here so i did this four times. about the fourth time i was over there i tripped over this ladder laying up against the wall, so i came over here and looked, ran, nothing was here. so i happened to witness -- you didn't usually witness one, but i witnessed an accident out here in the intersection, somebody ran a red light and bumped fenders, and i'm standing here watching to see what happens, and from out of nowhere, i don't know what it was, but it felt like somebody tapped me on the shoulder. i thought it was a co-worker. i turned around. wasn't nobody there. so when i turned back around to look out the window, i turned around like this, and -- and the corner of my eye i seen an envelope hanging between the ceiling and the wall about two
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inches down, about right there. so, i can't reach it, so i go back and i bring this ladder out here, and -- and i put it there, and i tried to pull it down. it was tight. there was a hole right here. these boards here were laid out like a floor up there. all leveled off and everything. i pulled myself up through the little hole, and on my hands and niece, and i put my hand on a piece of metal. i picked it up to move it out of the way so i get over to where the envelope was, and when i turned it over it read missing soldiers office, third story, room nine, miss clara barton. that was the thrill of the day. still is, and -- and i shoen the light back in there and there were utensils, clothing,
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newspapers, newspapers from 1859 up to 1868. had the whole acount of civil war in them, i imagine. funeral bunting, what i think is funeral bunting, hundreds of yards rolled up. here's a case of it in the window. sometimes stuff falls out of the ceiling or comes up out of the floor and i pick it up and i throw it in there. and so didn't really know what to do. i'll pack up some of this stuff and hide it. so i will come back on monday, so i came back on monday and then i happened to run into one of the project managers out front, and i asked him about it, what they were going to do. we're going to tear it down. i says, well, why? he says, well, we don't need it. i said, well, what are you going to do? two buildings were built the same. we're going to keep that
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building. he said duke ellington performed there when he was a young man. i said duke ellington is a pretty well-known person but this building, i found some stuff in there that relates it to a very important time in our history, to a very important person, and he turned at white as he could. i thought he was going to pass out. get rid of it. don't go to gsa with it. get rid of it. so i took it upon myself to -- to do what i did. i went to the library of congress for about nine months, every evening, and i did research. what threw me off was the address. everything i found here was addressed 488 1/2 seventh street. then i realized, well, i need some help me, so i went to somebody who knew about washington and asked him
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questions. you've got to go to the library and get the old records and look at them so i did. it had clara barton lived here. that's how this got lost in 1870 they changed this address to 437 because the numbers never matched up, and they change it had to 437, and then i was sure. i called people all over the country. i set up a post office box in ed shaw's name, answering machine in ed shaw's name. i was calling people all over the country trying to get them to buy this building. well, at first they had detectives all over the place trying to find this fellow ed. we had a contractor, electrician named ed. they hounded him, and so, you
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know, and i happened, you know, to -- to be reading an article from the b"battlefield journal" in september and they were dedicating a monument to clara barton and i talked to a man and i told him what i found and he was very interested in it. he said, well, i'll have to talk to my wife. she's an expert on clara. so for a week he exchanged messages, and one morning my wife called me at work. she says this -- there's a man from the park service named gary scott that wants to talk to ed shaw. i said, well, what did you tell him? she told him i'll have him call you, so i'd call you and he wanted to know about the artifacts and everything, and i told him.
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at first he didn't believe me. i'll tell you what i'll do. i'll go make certificate objectioned copies and i'll give you an address, and a at that time he was head historian down here for the park service. all of a sudden he got that stuff and called me back. well, that's got to be the real thing. when can i see it? he made arrangements with gsa to come in here. gary saved the building from getting torn down. in it weren't for him, i don't think we'd be standing here today. >> one of my favorite artifacts in the building, and i think one of the best, is this door right here. this is door number nine. and it is associated with the missing soldier's office. clara talks about being in room
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number nine quite a bit in her diaries located at the library of congress and a few other places. one of the really extraordinary things about the door is that in her diary she talks about having this mail slot cut in there. she paid a carpenter to come out. she paid 50 cents, and she needed this mail slot because she was receiving hundreds and hundreds of letters a day. i'm sure she was not the postal service's favorite person at that time because of that amount. so during the civil war the u.s. army was so overwhelmed because this was the first time that they had truly had to conduct a very large-scale war which they were completely unprepared for in every kind of way. soldiers were left on the battlefield in unmarked graves. many men were missing. the army was not able to put in the resources to locate where they have been, so clara barton
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by 1864 was pretty famous internation internationally, and she was known assagel of the battlefield and the friend of the american soldier, so families started writing to her to ask if she knew anything about the whereabouts of their loved ones who had been missing sometimes for a couple of years, and -- and they were pleading for help which, of course, clara couldn't ignore. she was kind of in a lull at that time between going out to the battlefield so she was very willing to pick up a new job to do and a new purpose for her. so she started to make inquiries about these. towards the end of the war as the u.s. army was liberating some of the prison camps, they were shipping all of the soldiers, many of whom were in very bad condition up to the camp outside of annapolis, maryland, so she proposed to --
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senator henry wilson that she go out to camp and start interviewing soldiers and looking through records to see if she couldn't help these families out. people were really traumatized by the idea that their loved ones were laying in a field somewhere or in an unmarked grave so they really needed closure, and she recognized the need for -- for this help. she approached henry wilson. he approached president lincoln who sad i'll talk to the law department about it. of course, they came back very unhappy about the idea that a woman was going to go to camp and phyllis theroux their records and get in their way and ask all kinds of questions which they really didn't have time for. .lincoln, of course, knew better than that. he knew how overwhelmed they were. he pool ll lly put an ad in the
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newspaper saying if you have any information about soldiers roar in need of information about someone that you're missing, please contact miss clara barton on seventh street in washington, d.c. and then signed the bottom abraham lincoln. so she had the support from, you know, the big man up there at the very top, and there wasn't really much the army could do about keeping her away. so she did go to anip list. eventually all of these soldiers were rehabilitated and sent home so they closed the camp. so naturally she just moved her office right here into d.c. into the living space that she had. it was, you know, just a natural thing. she had up to 12 clerks at one point working for her. she actually left town quite a bit of the time to go on a speaking tour to raise funds to support the missing soldiers
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office. she also lobbied congress to make it an official agency and to give her a budget. they -- she never was able to do that until about 1868 when congress voted to reimburse her for the funding that she put out of her own personal money to get this thing done. she did receive over 63,000 pieces of correspondence. she tried to answer each and every one. a lot of times she set up form letters for her clerks to use, and they -- she gave them permission to sign her name, and so every soldier that she received an inquiry on went in a book, eventually went on a roll that was published in all the paper. there were five rolls all together. and they were -- she answered every family member, you know, every correspondent as best she could with whatever information that she had.
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unfortunately, you know, a lot of those ended up being we're sorry, we couldn't find any information, but some of them were very interesting. she did get a letter that she answered personally from a woman whose son was an officer, and he was missing. he sent -- she sent -- the mother sent a beautiful photograph of the son in his uniform that was very compelling, and so clara actually worked on that case herself. the other one was a letter from a family, and i can't remember where they were from, but they had been missing a loved one, so she took the information, put the man's name on one of the rolls that was published and received a letter back from the gentleman himself who said that he didn't understand why clara felt the need to public his name in all of the papers and that he could take care of himself and he'd let his family know his whereabouts when he was ready to
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do that. so she wrote him a very impertinent letter stating that she actually was not very concerned and felt very bad that his family was concerned about him and that he had caused them so much grief, and, by the way, she sent his letter to them along with his whereabouts, so -- so they would at least know what happened to him. this is the original sign that was found identifying the building. it would have been on the outside of the door, and, of course, it says missing soldiers office. third story, room nine, miss clara barton, so that would have been hanging on the outside of the building to identify it for people who were looking for miss barton's office. some of the really, really interesting finds that we got in the attic were socks. we got -- we found many, many, many socks, and -- and sock tops
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and tock bottoms that were separated as well as lots of rags and pieces of cloth. what i love about these is that the soldier's footprints are still in these socks, and you can see this one, it looks like quite a bit of blood on that sock. clara would have taken these from the hospitals and collected them because socks were at a premium, and they would have wanted to reuse as much material as possible, and back in the 19th century, the way you did that, was you could separate the top of the sock from the bottom because you can see the bottom is where most of the wear takes place. you've got holes in the heels and toes, that kind of thing. you can reuse the top and throw away the bottom part so she would have gathered up as much of those as possible so that she could join new sock tops or old
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sock tops to new sock bottoms, and then those some could be used again. very conservative way to look at things, and i suspect what happened was when the war was over and she didn't need to be supplying them anymore, she had these left and just never did anything with them. and i think that's one of the best finds that we can have because i personally have never seen dirty, footprinted, mud and blood and torn-up socks from the civil war before. i think that's really a great find. well, one of the very unique finds from the attic and i think is most significant is this piece of canvas right here. significant because it has, if you look very closely, u.s. sanitary commission stamp on it which means that it was used by the sanitary commission. the u.s. sanitary commission was a -- another organization that works side by side with clara
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who also did a lot of supply to the u.s. army and provided a lot of supplies. they also did inspections and were really soldier advocates for the wold der, the common soldier fighting in the war. it's also a rubberized shelter half. now, there are plenty of rubberized materials left from the civil war but rubberized cloth and is especially shelter hats are very, very hard to come by. in fact, this is the only known rubberized shelter half in existence that we know of at this time. you can see here the rope is still on the ends of it, and it was first presented as a rubberized oil cloth, just an oil cloth, but when i looked at it for the first time and saw the button holz along the one side and the rope still in the hand-sewn grommets on the end,
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then i realized it was actually a shelter half, very, very few of these were produced during the war. even more significantly was how many had the sanitary stamp on those, and so it also shows you a little bit about clara barton's relationship with the sanitary commission because they gave this to her at some point during the war, and, of course, conservation plans with a historic architectural firm. they have had wallpaper studies
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done and sock studies done. some of the artifacts have been studied by professionals a little bit just to get some clarification on those, and, of course, they have been out there trying to promote more funding, which is where my museum comes in. we have an official partnership with gsa, and we are actually doing fund-raising because gsa has a limited amount of funds to do the restoration conservation work, and we hope to be able to fill in for whatever they can't do, plus build the exhibits and cases of the artifacts and for the artifact conservation. some of the artifacts that we have are desperately in need of conservation work. i would say it's tremendous. almost a miraculous find. certainly it's a miracle that it was able to survive and ended up being pre-served and is now on its way to being a


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